49 Degrees North: La Niña's "ton of snow" is on its way

click to enlarge 49 Degrees North: La Niña's "ton of snow" is on its way
49 Degrees North photo
It's expected to be a powder-packed season at 49.

At the end of the day, a ski resort is only as good as its powder. No matter the natural beauty of the mountain, the design of the runs or the amenities of the lodge, a fun day on the hill for skiers and snowboarders still requires good snow.

Thankfully for 49 Degrees North, it's looking like a very white winter. According to the mountain report experts at Unofficial Networks, the La Niña conditions predicted by NOAA led them to predict that the Chewelah resort will be one of the "20 Ski Areas That Should Get A Ton of Snow This Season." Such wonderful weather should maximize the recreational potential for one of the oldest ski areas in the Inland Northwest (and the second biggest in Washington state by skiable acreage). It should also make it a destination for winter sport enthusiasts looking to take advantage of its 86 runs that mix tree-lined glades, powdery bowls and cross-country skiing trails. With so much space available, 49 Degrees North's director of skier and rider services, Rick Brown, likes to joke, "Be ready to not stand in line!"

The 2021-22 season was one of big changes for 49 Degrees North, adding five new runs to the mountain and the first high-speed detachable chairlift in Eastern Washington. There's nothing as splashy this year, which is more about refining the new additions. Three of those new runs — Alpine Steel, Gunslinger, 10 Star — will be extended farther up the slope so that patrons can now drop in from Silver Ridge, not just Beaver Slide. The resort's snowmaking expansion, which went online last fall, was never fully operational in Year One, but it'll now be working at full power, making it easy to fill the (hopefully spare) gaps in the projected strong snow season.

The resort also procured a new masticating attachment for its PistenBully winch cat (affectionately nicknamed "Chop Chop"). The tool can chew up brush and stumps on steep slopes like Sluice Box and Last Chance. Less time spent hand-clearing runs like those gives the grounds crew more time to work on the upkeep of other trails. For skiers and boarders, this trickle-down effect translates to smoother terrain and runs being open earlier in the season than ever before.


The expanse of 49 Degrees North caters to all levels of skiers and boarders, and the mountain's run layout is designed to not completely isolate skill levels from one another. The unique arrangement of 49 Degrees' beginner runs makes it an ideal destination for those first-timers learning to ski and snowboard. The resort's easiest chairlift, Pay Day, which goes up Treasure Hill, is set apart from the high traffic areas. This alleviates fear issues associated with more advanced skiers and riders buzzing past them on a shared hill. Runs like Easy Slide and Gold Shoot are gentle, flowing, road-like routes that wind through the trees and feature big painted animals to further ease and entertain the kids.

The seasoned vets can take advantage of Chewelah Mountain's elite glades skiing environment. Patrons often find fresh tracks by taking the West base's Angel Peak and Silver Lode chair. The terrain tends to be a bit more challenging, including a good concentration of black diamond runs, but there are often fewer people in that area, plus less direct sunlight, so fresh tracks can still be found sometimes days after a decent snowfall.

It doesn't matter if you're a first-timer, a slopes ace, or just a pal tagging along to grab some chicken strips and fries at the Boomtown Bar, 49 Degrees North looks to fulfill your winter wonderland dreams with a very snowy 2022-23. ♦




There is a really long-standing history of winter sports in the Chewelah area, particularly on Chewelah Mountain peak. The first lift — a rope tow — was installed in 1939. In terms of people coming up in an organized fashion and skiing on these slopes in this area, it's been going on for like 87 years. It's really one of the earliest in the Northwest, certainly in this area. And this will be our 50th year with our current lodge.


We've got bells that are kind of scattered around some different places at the resort, and it's kind of a tradition as you're skiing through those areas to ring the bells. We've got one in a tree area low on the mountain that newer skiers, and particularly kids, can access very easily. We've got one right near the top of Silver Ridge, which has been one of our most popular runs for a long, long time. We've got three bells out there right now. There are also some really cool hand-built birdhouses scattered all over the mountain. They're all affixed to trees, and a lot of them have ski elements built into them; like they use ski poles for the little pegs for birds to be able to sit on. Some of them are very elaborate. You can see some of them from chairlifts, and some of them you have to be out skiing in the glades. They've been around over 10 years. So that's kind of a cool, fun thing out there.

Rick Brown is the director of skier and rider services at 49 Degrees North.

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About The Author

Seth Sommerfeld

Seth Sommerfeld is the Music Editor for The Inlander, and an alumnus of Gonzaga University and Syracuse University. He has written for The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Fox Sports, SPIN, Collider, and many other outlets. He also hosts the podcast, Everyone is Wrong...